CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Education professor Richard Hendershot begins his Wednesday night Effective School Organization and Improvement class by talking about the pros and cons of standard-based assessments at Wayland Baptist University.
Students at Wayland Baptist University feel like their teachers care for them and that they belong.
Students at the Clovis campus are saying that’s why the school was ranked so well by the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges ranking.
Wayland was ranked 62nd in the list of 572 regional universities in the west. The 572 schools were compared against each other and the ranking is based on several factors including peer scores, graduation rate, number of classes under 20 persons and the student-teacher ratio.
“It’s evidence that Wayland does strive for academic excellence, integrity and achievement,” Clovis campus Dean and Executive Director Gary Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the university network of 14 campuses strives for quality, broad-based, faith-based liberal arts education by maintaining high quality and expert faculty at all campuses.
“We look at the trends in each of our disciplines to stay on the cutting edge,” he said. “Many of our faculty are experts, scholars in their field. That gives strength and veracity to the program.”
Mitchell said the Clovis campus has a majority of non-traditional students with the average age of 35.
“And we have a heart for our students,” Mitchell said. “We’re almost like a family, especially at each branch. We get to know our students, they get to know us pretty well.”
Mitchell said the closeness makes for a good learning environment.
Graduate education administration student Tami Martin said the college caters to specific needs of students that other bigger universities can’t.
“Most of the students are working class,” Martin said. “We already have jobs, we’re trying to provide for our families. They try to create a program to fit that need.”
Martin, who also attended Wayland for her undergraduate degree in music education, said the education she and her classmates are receiving is top notch.
“We do hands-on work and go out in the community and talk to people,” she said. “It’s really great.”
Richard Hendershot, director of the teacher education program, said the university stays current with what schools are doing and teaches things that can be immediately applied in the classroom. He said many of his students are already teachers, like Martin, who is the choir director for Yucca Middle School and the Freshman Academy.
“There’s a lot of knowledge sharing that goes on in here,” he said.
Criminal Justice student Joshua Armijo said he is attending Wayland because he couldn’t find a schedule to fit his at Eastern New Mexico University.
“The accessibility to teachers and the size of the classes are two of the great benefits,” Armijo said. “I have never been turned away for a question from any of the professors here. It’s just great. I also like how we start class with a prayer. You don’t see that in college.”